RVBusiness Issues ’100 Most Influential’ Listing

June 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

RVBusiness logoAs part of its coverage of the RV industry’s centennial in 2010, a year set aside for the industry’s 100th birthday by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), RVBusiness magazine and have issued an unprecedented listing of the “100 Most Influential People in the History of the RV Industry.”

“The lengthy listing in our May/June issue was simple enough in concept,” reports RVB Publisher Sherman Goldenberg. “But as the article in our May/June issue indicates, the execution was tougher than any of us would have dreamed.”

In addition to assembling their own in-house listing, based on general knowledge of the industry and its past, RVB’s staff networked with other industry people for additional nominees. They also invited website visitors to contribute nominees and ultimately turned to the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc.’s Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., for backup information on some of the likely names of individuals who’s days in this industry had long passed from the scene.

“From all of this,” Goldenberg adds in the current issue of RVB, “we developed a lengthy draft listing of about 250 candidates who might likely qualify. But paring that list down to 100, says Goldenberg in the linked feature story, is where the “wheels came off” in the selection process.

“The challenge for us wasn’t in naming the obvious candidates, legendary industry pioneers like John K. Hanson of Winnebago, Dick Klingler of Holiday Rambler or John Crean of Fleetwood, all three of whom are profiled separately in our ‘Most Influential’ editorial package,” he said. “The difficulty was in dealing with the other 90 slots because it seems like, for every individual we generally felt belonged on that list, there were always two to three others who also realistically vied for inclusion.

John Crean

John Crean

Lloyd Bontrager

Lloyd Bontrager

John K. Hanson

John K. Hanson

Richard Klingler

Richard Klingler

“We don’t mean long-shots,” says Goldenberg. “We mean solid, high profile, established industry players who would have been automatic if only we could have expanded the list to, say, the most influential 110 or 125. But that wasn’t the game as we had set it up. That wasn’t the editorial mission upon which we had originally agreed. So, we had to go in a few cases with our gut instincts. In any event, we’re proud of the results.

“And some of those individuals who were on the edge and didn’t make the list should know that they are in some cases ‘works in progress,’ meaning that they are people who by the time they retire will more than likely be slam dunk nominees for the next century’s most influential listing.”

Here’s the link to download the full article: (file is 724KB. Right click on link and download or save to your desktop, or click to load in your browser):

For those who prefer a high-resolution version of the article and have a fast Internet connection, you may access the article here (file is 125MB):

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Leaders Salute RV Industry and Its Centennial

June 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Today’s Featured Video comes from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and shows a number of business and government leaders saluting the RV industry on its centennial .

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RV Time Capsule on Display at Hall of Fame

June 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

RV Centennial time capsule

RV Centennial time capsule

The RV Centennial time capsule, filled with RV memorabilia and sealed at the Centennial Celebration at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., on June 7, has been permanently displayed, along with the many state and federal proclamations recognizing the centennial.

The display is located at the entrance to the RV Founders Hall sponsored by Winnebago Industries Inc. and Thor Industries Inc. at the Hall of Fame in Elkhart. It is scheduled to be unsealed and opened in 25 years.

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RVIA Centennial Video Salutes the RV Worker

June 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Today’s Featured Video comes courtesy of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), which paid tribute to RV workers during last week’s Centennial celebration in Elkhart, Ind.

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FRVTA Marks RV Centennial at Welcome Centers

June 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

FRVTA logo, techThe Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) spent three days at the three Interstate Welcome Centers coming into Florida to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the RV Industry and the 30th year of the FRVTA.RVIA_Centennial

In addition to handing out free popcorn and bottled water, the Tin Can Tourists had a display of “antique” RVs on display as well. The centers are located on I-95, I-75 and I-10.

“The response from travelers was great,” said FRVTA Marketing Director Dave Kelly in a news release. “They were very surprised to see us handing out freebees and they loved touring the older RVs. They were more popular than the modern RVs we had on display.”

Tim Heintz, the Southeast regional representative of the Tin Can Tourists, had the oldest RV on display, a 1950 Spartanette trailer that he restored himself. “I found this trailer in a field, it had tress growing up beside it and I was able to buy it for $800. It has been valued at between $70,000 and $80,000. The Tin Can Tourists all have one thing in common, we love to save old RVs.”

Other vintage RVs on display included a 1967 Avion, a 1964 Airstream and a 1963 Shasta.

The Lake City Reporter ran a front-page story about the celebration and First Coast News in Jacksonville ran a two-minute story on the evening news. “We were thrilled with the media coverage,” said Kelly. “I think we accomplished what we set out to do, expose the media and public to the RV Centennial celebration. We are going to keep working with the Tin Can Tourists and already have a few of them that will be attending the Florida RV SuperShow in January.”

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Centennial Event Tonight Honors RV Workers

June 7, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

What a difference a year makes.

Last year, the RV industry was reeling with its lowest sales since 1991 and some companies were being forced out of business, according to the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune.

RVIA_CentennialBut this year business is looking up, what with shipments projected to increase by 39% in 2010.

With a better mood for a party, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) will celebrate 100 years of RVs this summer.

The biggest of the events will take place today (June 7) at the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart. Everyone from workers to factory owners will be feted along with the product at a 100th anniversary party, which will include video tributes, a band, food, fun and fireworks.

The festivities will be part of June’s monthlong RV Centennial Celebration.

But the entire week will feature various committee meetings and events as more than 200 RVIA members come to South Bend for committee meetings plus the group’s annual meeting — all at the Century Center.

The annual meeting is typically held in more exotic locations, but it’s coming to Michiana this year for several reasons, including the fact that Michiana is where much of the industry is located.

“Because of the centennial, we felt it was important and proper to celebrate the event at the museum in Elkhart and have the weeklong event in South Bend,” said Gary LaBella, RVIA vice president and chief marketing officer. “Because of the economic situation, we are trying to make it easier on our members.”

And central to a two-hour festival at the museum on Monday, will be a “Salute to RV Workers,” with some on hand at the invitation-only event.

“This is an industry full of entrepreneurs and self-made guys and interesting people who built the industry up in their own garages,” LaBella said. “It’s important, and they all recognize it. Our RVIA and our manufacturers and supplier members certainly recognize that the industry will only go as far as the work force and the integrity of the work force takes it.

“I don’t know how it compares to other industries. But we feel that the craftsmanship and the quality of work that comes out of our RV factories, and obviously the Elkhart and South Bend area factories are a big part of (the reason). The work is extremely well-perceived nationally.”

Included in the video salute to workers will be interviews with some of the workers as well as owners talking about how much the work force means to them.

The party in Elkhart is expected to have 500 people in attendance.

Another part of the yearlong celebration, that actually started back in December with the 47th National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., was RV historian David Woodworth’s tour this spring to showcase the old and the new of the RV industry.

Besides celebrating the 100th anniversary, the RVIA also hopes the public recognizes that the RV industry has bounced back from bad times before.

“Given the year that the industry just went through, it’s just a fantastic time to have something that everybody can rally around and feel good about,” LaBella said.

“It reminds everyone that we have a long storied history that is full of ups and downs.

“We have been through wars and times of peace, and fuel lines and all kinds of fads and the cyber revolution, and yet the industry is still going strong.

“We feel bad about last year, but it’s nice to be reminded that there is no doubt we will be back strong.”

LaBella made the comments in an interview well ahead of the recent news that April’s wholesale shipments being up 85% over a year ago and 2.5% over March of this year.

“The recovery is robust the first third of the year,” RVIA spokesman Kevin Broom said.

History is indeed on the industry’s side.

“An industry cannot be around 100 years unless it can absorb a few bumps in the road along the way,” LaBella said. “We have had many bumps in the road and always come back stronger than ever.”

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Centennial, Committee Week on RVIA Agenda

June 7, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

RVIA_CentennialRepresentatives of the RV industry from across North America will converge on Elkhart, Ind., tonight for the official celebration of the RV centennial.

All 1,000 tickets for the once-in-a-century event were sold weeks ago, sponsor Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported.

The celebration comes during RVIA’s annual Committee Week, which begins today.

Several Indiana state and natural political figures have been invited to the centennial event which begins at 6:30 p.m. at the RV/MH Heritage Museum on the city’s northeast side. The event is on, rain or shine. In case of inclement weather, all outdoor events will be moved inside.

The RV Centennial Celebration will include a barbecue and outdoor reception featuring casual fare and a variety of entertaining booths, a Centennial Campfire surrounded by antique RVs and more. The outdoor reception will be followed by a special program honoring the industry’s past. The fast-paced, one–hour program held inside the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum will include entertaining videos and presentations saluting the industry’s history and a cake-cutting ceremony. A rousing fireworks display will wrap up the evening.

RVIA previously announced important parking guidelines for those attending the event. Limited parking will be available on-site at the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart and at the neighboring RSM McGladrey accounting firm. In order for event attendees to park on-site, they must be participating in a carpool with at least three people per car.

For those unable to carpool, RVIA is offering shuttle buses that will take guests to and from the Century Center Marriott in South Bend and RV/MH Hall of Fame. RVIA will also offer nearby satellite parking with shuttle-bus service to the event. Companies that have large groups of attendees coming to the Centennial Celebration are urged to run their own buses to allow as many of their attendees as possible to travel together as a group in one vehicle.

The party comes at the start of RVIA’s Committee Week, traditionally held in Washington, D.C. All Committee Week activities will be held at the Century Center in downtown South Bend, located 15 miles west of Elkhart.

Because Committee Week is being held in northern Indiana, the hub of the RV industry, the RVIA expects attendance at this week’s meetings to be higher than normal, RVIA Vice President Mac Bryan said.

Committee Week meetings began at 8 a.m. today and conclude with the RVIA board of directors meeting scheduled for all day on Thursday.

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Get Outdoors Month Now Underway Across U.S.

June 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Tuesday (June 1) marked the start of a month-long celebration of the value of time in the Great Outdoors.

According to a mailing from the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), which is allied with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), numerous activities are planned for this month to boost the public’s awareness and appreciation of the outdoors.

President Obama and nearly every governor have already declared the month Great Outdoors Month.

“The proclamations are substantive and highlight the themes we have been pursuing actively for more than a decade,” said Derrick Crandall, ARC president. “They point out that recreation is a key route to a healthier America, and is especially important as a tool to fight childhood obesity and the costs in quality of life and dollars. The proclamations talk about recreation and the economy, and about our Great Outdoors as means to learn about our heritage and about the importance of conservation.”

And the proclamations are just the start. Here is what the month of June will include:

  • The First Lady was in Nevada Tuesday and unveiled Let’s Move Outdoors, a new website and a new part of her campaign to fight childhood obesity.
  • Also Tuesday, the first of the town hall meetings under the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative was held in Helena, Mont. Announced at a White House conference on April 16, America’s Great Outdoors offers an opportunity to shape a presidential strategy on conservation and recreation by late this year.
  • On Friday, June 4, ED OUT will bring nearly 1,000 people to Camp William Snyder in Hayfield, Va., for a day of outdoor learning and fun. This pilot effort, team-led by Prince William County Schools, ARC, the Forest Service and Take Me Fishing, will involve 4th and 7th graders and adjunct faculty drawn from NASA, the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Wildlife Federation and more and will launch a national campaign to get public schools to use nearby parks and public places to improve education during the school year and during summer vacations.
  • On Saturday, June 5, National Trails Day will attract hundreds of thousands to volunteer projects along trails on public lands – making these trails more fun for millions.
  • Also on Saturday is the start of National Fishing and Boating Week, with events across the nation including free fishing opportunities.
  • And Saturday is also one of Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar’s fee-free weekends in national parks and other federal recreation sites!
  • On Monday, June 7, nearly a thousand youth will fish on the National Mall in Washington at a popular event coordinated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – just a block away from Interior’s headquarters and three blocks from the White House.
  • Also on Monday, June 7, is the kickoff event for Great Outdoors Week, held this year at the National Wildlife Visitor Center at Patuxent Research Refuge. The center is the largest science and environmental education center of the Department of the Interior. And while at Patuxent, we’ll award the 2010 Beacon Awards, for use of technology to enhance recreational enjoyment of public lands and to manage recreation use.
  • On Tuesday, June 8, all kinds of things will be happening in Washington. The Coalition for Recreational Trails will present the 2010 Recreational Trails Program Awards and release a new database of some 20,000 trail projects aided by this program since its inception in 1991. The National Park Foundation and Unilever will present the Harry Yount Ranger of the Year Award. And leading physicians who believe that “park prescriptions” are a great tool get make America healthier will begin a series of meetings with Administration and Congressional leaders.
  • Great Outdoors Week events continue later in the week with the 2010 Great Outdoors Week Recreation Exchange featuring Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, presentation of the 2010 Legends Awards, the Great Mall Walk for Health, the Great Outdoors Week Ice Cream Social on the USDA patio with “celebrity scoopers,” and more.
  • Saturday, June 12, at some 80 sites across the nation, National Get Outdoors Day will be celebrated – a team effort to reach out to America’s kids and get them excited about adventures in the outdoors. In Denver, and Salt Lake and Washington and more, thousands of kids will ride bikes and paddle canoes and climb artificial walls and go geocaching and birdwatching – in our cities! And they will be invited out to more traditional recreation sites at EChO events later in the summer.
  • A big part of National Get Outdoors Day is National Marina Day. At marinas across the country — and especially at a dozen signature sites — marinas will invite families to try out time on boats and enjoy life on the edge of our rivers, lakes and oceans.
  • The RVIA and RV community will be celebrating the centennial of recreation vehicles during the month, and especially in events in Indiana during the week of June 7-11.
  • Action continues on June 19-20 at the Outdoor Nation Youth Summit in Central Park, New York City, as some 500 delegates gather to champion the outdoors and start a youth-driven outdoors movement.
  • And lots more will be happening before the month of June winds down, including the National Wildlife Foundation-led Great American Backyard Campout on backyards and community sites nationwide on June 26.

The idea for Great Outdoors Month is just 20 years old — the result of discussions immediately following the 2nd Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award presentation to then-President George H. W. Bush in 1990.

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Another Look Back at History of the RV Industry

June 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Watch today’s Featured Video from WDAZ-TV, Ch. 5, in Grand Forks, N.D. Host Terry Dullum is the producer and anchor of WDAZ News @5 on WDAZ-TV in Grand Forks. His video essays, The Dullum File, are seen Fridays on WDAZ News @6. He is also a popular speaker and emcee. He hosts the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra’s annual Holiday Pops Concert at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.

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Quilt Gardens to Greet Elkhart County RV Visitors

May 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the quilt gardens in Elkhart County.

One of the 17 quilt gardens in Elkhart County.

A feature not usually associated with RVs will greet visitors to Elkhart County as the RV industry  celebrates its centennial early next month and converges on the northern Indiana community.

The 2010 Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail begins Memorial Day and continues through September. A product of the Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau (ECCVB), the signature event features 17 official large-scale quilt patterned gardens and 17 hand-painted quilt murals presented in the communities of Elkhart, Bristol, Middlebury, Shipshewana, Goshen, Nappanee and Wakarusa, all communities where RVs are manufactured.

All sites are viewable free of charge, according to a news release.

“The Quilt Gardens… along the Heritage Trail” was recently recognized as a creative, emerging cultural tourism initiative; and the ECCVB received the 2010 Efroymson Award for Excellence in Cultural Tourism Development for the project. The event has also been recognized by the group market and designated a Top 100 Event by the American Bus Association in 2009 and 2010.

The Quilt Gardens project garners interest from a wide range of audiences and drives increased visitation and visitor spending in Elkhart County. Over 50% of garden/mural visitation also involves visitations to other attractions in the destination, with visitor spending averaging $300 to $500 per travel party.

Visit for additional information on the Quilt Gardens.

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